What is Love? (Part I)
A couple of nights ago I was in bed with my wife waiting for the sandman to come. Neither of us fell quickly to sleep that evening and we lay together talking for some part of an hour. As we did so what has been for me a rare moment occurred (I cannot speak for others as to the frequency of such events in their experience) and that rarity combined with the quality of the moment made it all the more special and memorable. What occurred was an instance of near-pure human love; not sex, Love. We were merely holding each other and talking. At a certain point, the joy of our togetherness seemed to fill the room, as the look in my wife's eyes and the smile on her face nearly glowed in the darkness, and for a moment we were one, spiritually. Perhaps even here I am again an exception to the rule, and for most of you such an experience may be more frequent, even ’normal’. I must admit that the scarcity of such a true complete ’connection’ to another human being is largely my own doing, even somewhat deliberate. The reason for my personal recalcitrance toward others (inwardly - outwardly I go through the duties of my daily life with a false veneer of acceptance and the camouflage of acceptability), is that, in a way, inside my mind, I live my life in the distant future, when the evil-part of the heart of humankind has finally been transformed and peace and happiness are true birthrights of all. And when I rise each day and go forth into the world for gainful employment or personal enjoyment I travel back through time, to this time, when people still do not know their own evil, and take it for good in their foolishness.
Yet I truly love humankind. I love the human potential. The ‘star’ worship of the masses must surely be representative of the same. Film and music ‘stars’ are representatives of that potential. Artists and even some scientists attract uncanny admiration, yes, even love from their ‘fans’ because they most of all humans approximate that potential which is known intuitively by all. And it is not coincidence that the vast majority of these ‘representatives’ attain and promote a extremely ‘liberal’ social philosophy and political agenda, as opposed to the backward looking reactionary politicians of our age. True, half the people vote conservative, and the other half only less so, yet the fear and lack of ‘vision’ that propels them to do so (arising from the ‘herd instincts’ of Nietzsche) can be either dispelled, or hardened into true evil by leadership, as the warmonger G.W. Bush is doing out of putrid political motivations for power and glory and oil-lust (the Bushes are oil-mongers from way back in the last century). So you see, as much as I love what man can be, I abhor what he is. That is why I have unofficially withdrawn from the human ’race’. We have a very long way to go is we are ever to reach the ‘place’ which Christ has prepared for us. We may never, as a species, reach it in sum. We may soon be out of time, particularly if we, in sum, keep making the wrong decisions. Perhaps someone may come to lead the herd by it’s nose ring to the light. Not I, of course. My light is too weak and faltering. My spirit is not pure enough. What I have I give here, out of love.
What is love? Love is caring. You know you love someone or something if you care about it/them more than you do yourself. Anything less is either empathy, pity, affection, infatuation, desire, or lust.
Love is surrender. Caring requires you to surrender your own wants and desires and personal concerns, the ‘self-interest’ that is normally (instinctively) most people’s number one priority and ‘promote’ the needs and interests of another above your own. A soldier must surrender his love of life and the instinctive will to live for the love of country and be willing to die to defend it. Yet a higher love was described by Christ who showed the way to a true love of God, in which we surrender all our ego attachments including a love of country that would require you to kill to defend it. He said, “Love thy enemy”, not kill them and take their oil. The rebellion against Truth started by Satan has not, whether they know it or not, lacked adherents. Indeed such ‘self-interest’ comes naturally, instinctively, to us all. It is only those who hear a higher calling that receive the higher Truth, and understand that love is surrender.
Love is also devotion. He who cares enough to surrender their self-interest for another (romantic love), or ‘the other’ (philosophical spiritual love), should have within them a naturally growing commitment to that person or quest which sustains that love through good times and hard trials and tribulations; even unto the ultimate self sacrifice if need be. Commitment to a marriage or to the ideals of the Sacred Truth will require sacrifice. Yet what is achieved by that sacrifice is often greater than ‘the sum of the parts’, or what was given up. The commitment of a loving wife to a ‘less than perfect’ husband has often led in times past to that man attaining a greatness that would not have been possible alone, as in the example of Franklin Roosevelt. Franklin’s wife Eleanor was a strong, intelligent force whose influence on Franklin guided and inspired his commitment to progressive social change. Her commitment to Franklin, her ‘devotion’ if you will also allowed her to become a powerful influence on the world’s stage, even after his death. She made a difference. As did he. Together, they were ‘more than the sum of their parts’. As for me this very essay was inspired by comments of my wife Sharon. By loving devotion and caring sacrifice we make the world better and ourselves, ‘bigger’.
What is love? It is that which brought life into the world. That which cared for it and nurtured it till it ‘flowered’ and self-aware Man came forth from the dust. That which makes us free. It is that to which all who choose wisely which path to take in life shall return to. Love is the eternal light of God, a beacon of hope awaiting our return upon the shore of a land of true peace, standing against the sea of darkness that ever seeks to dash our ship of hope against the rocks of despair. But the light will guide you, this I know, and lead you to safety and the land of peace if you will put your trust in it, if you ‘will to believe’, in it, which is what is called ‘Faith’. I know, and you can too, in ways we cannot comprehend, that God’s providence is upon those that seek his Truth and ‘prepare the Way’. The ‘Way’ is the path laid out before us by Christ, in his teachings. Each of us however, must ‘forge’ our own trail through the wilderness, must “prepare ye the Way of the Lord”. The task may be arduous, may even require “the last full measure of devotion”, yet “fear not, the Lord is with you”.
What is love? Love is understanding. By caring devotion and loving sacrifice we come to know the true nature of our natural selves and to understand, through the teachings of Christ, how much work there is left to do! By loving devotion and caring sacrifice we accept this quest and “prepare the Way”. In doing so we begin to understand the meaning of life and the Absolute Relativity of our place in the universe. By love, devotion, and surrender we begin the transformation of our spirit into the true “image” of the spirit of God, and within us slowly grows that which in times past was called ‘wisdom’. We learn to understand the inter-connected oneness of all creation. We learn what Christ meant when he said, “You must lose your life to save it”.
What is love? May these words touch your mind and open your heart, to know the ultimate answer.
What is love?
©2007 Thomas Theodore Welborn